What Is Alzheimer's Disease?


Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia which is a broad term encompassing a group of symptoms, such as memory loss, impaired judgment, and loss of complex motor skills, caused over time by the death of neurons in the brain. Alzheimer’s accounts for approximately 60% to 80%of all dementia cases and there is no recovery from this disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease is named after a German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who in 1906, during a brain autopsy on a 51 year old woman who suffered from mental illness, observed abnormal clumps and tangled bundles of fibers. Today, these abnormal clumps are known as amyloid plaques and the tangled bundles of fibers are referred to as neurofibrillary tangles--plaques and tangles in the brain are two of the main features of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease is an irreversible, progressive neurological disorder in which plaques and tangles interfere with the connectivity of neurons (the brain’s nerve cells) and results in neuronal cell death. Eventually, neurological damage is spread to the hippocampus which is the part of the brain that forms memories. Over time, as neurons die, brain tissues shrink rendering increased loss of memory and other symptomatology. In the late stage of Alzheimer’s disease, the brain has shrunk significantly resulting in full loss of mental functioning.

For additional information related to Alzheimer’s disease go to the Alzheimer’s Association at www.alz.org